How to Feel Great at 100

Will you make it to 100? You might, as more and more people are achieving this milestone.

But a better question to ask might be: Will you feel great at 100? A small subset of the population not only reaches 100 years of age but continues to live life fully and joyously after 10 decades. Here are three active steps you can take now to set yourself up to not only become a centenarian but do so in the best health possible:

1. Exercise.

No shock here, as numerous studies have documented the longevity of people in cultures around the world that place a premium on physical activity. And while running marathons—if that's your thing—is great, so is less intense activity as long as it's done on a regular basis.

Even half an hour of moderate exercise five days a week should keep you ticking, according to a fairly recent University of Virginia study. That means leave the car at home and walk the mile or two to the store to buy provisions. And don't forget the weights. You don't have to impersonate Arnold Schwarzenegger to reap the benefits of strength training-invest in a session or two with a trainer who can tailor a program to your body strength and goals. Keeping your muscles strong now means not having to ask for help opening jars or pushing shopping carts when you reach a ripe old age.

2. Fix your house.

Making improvements is not always a matter of cosmetic appeal—it can translate into a much safer environment. Take the time now to repair things that are stuck, such as windows and doors. Install good lighting, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Nail down that piece of carpet that's sticking up. Put rails in the tub or shower. By keeping your home safe, you greatly reduce the chance of having an accident such as slipping and falling or cutting yourself on something sharp. And that gives you a big edge in reaching 100 happy and healthy.

3. Socialize.

Out every night with pals until the wee hours? Good for you. But even the early birds among us can enjoy a rich, rewarding social life that yields strong friendships and community ties. And scientists tell us those connections may be just the thing that prolongs our lives.

A team at Brigham Young University reviewed 148 studies and found that there is a 50 percent boost in survival rates among people who have strong social ties, cutting across all age and gender groups. So join a group at the local community center, call up a friend for a walk, or organize a fun outing with like-minded folks. You'll have years together to enjoy each other's company.


New York Times, October 26, 2010; Holt-Lunstad, Julianne, Smith, Timothy B., and Layton, J. Bradley. "Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review." PLoS Medicine 7(7), July 2010.